Monday, September 18, 2006

Absolute Confusion

Zach is having problems with 4th grade Math. He's had 2 tests and received an F on both because he wasn't able to grasp number values above the 1,000 ranges. If he was given the number 29,457,863 and had to round it off to the value of the number in bold type, he couldn't do it. After two weeks of struggling, doing internet searches for worksheets, going over and over, number by number, time after time, with him, I think he's finally getting the idea but I'm becoming very frustrated with this.

First of all, why is he having problems with it now? He didn't seem to have a problem with the numbers up to 1,000 or if he did it didn't appear to me that he did. Were they supposed to have worked with the higher number values in the latter weeks of 3rd grade and didn't?

Secondly, I am allowing Zach to participate in an after school program where I understood they'd have extra help while doing their homework. I've since found out that it's possible that this may have been what this program was meant for but the truth is, it's not what it's being used for. I feel like it's more or less an after school babysitting service for the parents who work. There are 34 4th graders in his group and 2 teachers. They give help if they're asked but they don't make sure the students complete their assignments nor do they check their homework, so after Zach's first week of attending this program, where he completed his homework in the 1 1/2 hrs that he was there (the same homework that was taking up to 3 hrs for him to complete at home), but was bringing nothing home for me to go over with him, I called to request a conference with his teacher.

The result is, I am no closer to knowing what to do in order to help him than I ever was. I asked them about resources available for students who needed extra help in grasping things. There doesn't seem to be any. I told his teacher the problems he was having in Math, hell in a handbasket, she should have known that after the first F, but even after telling her that he was still having problems recognizing the higher number values, he made another F on another paper.

Am I supposed to be finding the ways to help him to understand this? I'm not a teacher, what am I supposed to do? I need to stay ahead of where he is to make sure I can keep him where he needs to be, how can I do this other than sitting in his class room? Where can I find more teaching materials? I've searched on line when I know what to look for but specific things aren't always easy to find.

I'm open to any and all suggestions here and I'd really appreciate your input.


kaliblue said...

I don't have any kids but, have you seen if there is any tutoring being offered by maybe a parent or another teacher?. Maybe you can talk to another parent to see if they know something or someone?, or a student in a higher grade that could help him?. Do ya'll have that place called the Sylvia Learning Center?. They are suppose to be really good. Hope this helps. If not, I hope someone reads this can help you more:-).

PEA said...

It's a shame that teachers these days aren't given the one on one kind of help some of these kids need. I agree with what kaliblue said in her comment...find out if there are private tutors available or an older student to help him. We parents aren't qualified to help our children where homework is concerned...I could never help mine in Math because they weren't teaching it the way I had learned it anymore!

cassie-b said...

What ever happened to dedicated teachers? It looks as if you're on you own to find a solution.

is there someone else in the school system that you can talk to?

Summer said...

I know all about this. You need to speak to the teacher directly and ask for help. Either one on one from her or ask about tutors that are available. If she doesn't give you an answer, then you need to go to the principal and ask for help. As far as tutors are concerned, adults charge big bucks, so maybe an honors student from the high school. They do this for money too, but a lot less and they also like to put it on their college application as it looks very good!

Brenda said...

We live in rural Arkansas and there are no Sylvan Learning centers closer than 75 miles.
I've already spoken to the teacher with the principal present, neither could, or would, offer any help. I haven't spoken to the High School math teacher yet to see if she can recommend a student for tutoring, not sure when he could do this since his time is taken up with the after school program now.

Leslie said...

Zach is a lucky boy to have someone so dedicated to his well-being and education. How frustrating that you're hitting all these walls in your efforts. I'm thinking the older student route might be a good one, if you're able to hook-up with someone willing and able. Carl's cousin was one such tutor who really enjoyed doing it and didn't charge an arm and a leg.

Could you post a notice on a bulletin board at the school?

Good luck, Brenda, and keep fightin' the fight.

Tammy said...

I feel your frustration...4th grade is where my son started to have problems...and some of it was him and some of it were the teachers...he ended up having to repeat...I have no idea how to teach...but I guess this problem you are having is why so many mothers are turning to home schooling...if you think about it, if you are helping him for hours on end with homework then you might as well be the teacher!
(((hugs))) to you my friend!

Andie Pandie said...

Also check your local public library, sometimes they offer tutoring. I'm sorry you are having such trouble. Getting help with education shouldn't be so hard.

Anonymous said...


Have you tried the homeschool supply stores? ABECA is what most homeschool parents use. It is also used in private schools as well. I don't know if I spelled it correctly or not. Or better yet, call one of the private schools and find out what curriculum (spelled incorrectly, but you get the gest) they use. Some times it takes using a little creativity to get them to get it. I've tried every trick there is with Fisher and some of them work and some don't. He is really doing wonderful this year and I know that his diet has been a factor. Once I got him off meds and on to Juice+ and keeping him away from sodas and junk food, you would not believe the change in the child. He is eating and gaining weight. He can focus on task so much better.

Love ya,

Kathleen Marie said...

I may step on some toes here but here I go and I apologize in advance.

This is one reason many families turn to homeschooling. I am not saying this is the solution for you but many Moms who are non teachers, teach there kids all along.

Just think about it. YOU have been teaching your child since the day he was born many things you have learned along the way. Many things you probably had no clue you would ever be teaching such as cooking which is math, chemistry and home economics. Amazing!

I homeschooled for a few years and there are some awesome homeschool materials that you can purchase to help your child after school as well. Most homeschooled kids when transfering to public school are way ahead because they are not stressed when learning at home, they learn at their own speed and Mom and Dad and older siblings may be on hand for one on one teaching. I was HORRID at math but when I sent my daughter to public school in 6th grade she was way ahead.

Check with your local homeschool group for helps. You will be amazed at what is available.

Another problem with public school is that kids are lumped together and not all kids learn at the same speed/rate. Your son may easily grasp all these concepts next year but according to the public school schedule he must do it this year, which is a huge shame. I personally didn't learn to divide until I started teaching my own kids. I had a mental block for years and all of a sudden it just clicked.

I also had one daughter who could read at age 3 and until who didn't read until she was 8 or 9.

Another problem is that many, many math teachers don't really understand math themselves. They can do the formulas but they don't grasp the concept, which makes them poor teachers. Also, not all teachers are certified in the area in which they teach.

For most schools only a certain percentage of teachers have to be certified in the area in which they teach. Therefore you can have a certified PE teacher teaching physics. No joke here! This is the God's honest truth! We had one physics teacher teaching in a school I taught at and she hated it as she did not know physics but she had a brain child of a student who actually taught the class.

Also, you can and have every right to sit in on your sons class and find out what is truly going on. The teacher may hate it but she cannot kick you out. I often after sending my children to public school became a "volunteer" in my kids classrooms. I would also stand outside the door and listen in, i.e. spy.

I also suggest you speak with the school counselor and principle. The teacher is NOT doing her job if your son is failing.

Blessings to you!

Kathleen Marie said...

Cindra said...

Brenda, I don't know what the conditions are in Zach's class, but teachers today are sometimes expected to teach 30 kids at one time at all different levels. Sometimes quiet ones slip through the cracks... the ole squeaky wheel.
There are a number of good sites online to help, but the best thing to know is what kind of learner Zach is. Is he auditory, visual or does he need to learn it while doing something.
I hate to see all the teacher bashing. Sometimes it can be a poor teacher... most often it is a "poor school system" trying to stretch the dollar too far.
Contact me by e-mail and I will help you find some material to help you.
I'm not sure I would be paying good money for that after school service if it isn't doing it's job.

jazzi said...

I hope you've found some good suggestions from others. My kids have been out of the system too long to have any that might be good for now. And, most of my experience with problems dealt with Special Ed, so that's kind of a different animal. I'm thinking of you, Brenda, and hoping you find an answer.

cultureshock553 said...

Poor you and poor Zach! My daughter had trouble with math. We were able to get a list of tutor/students from a local college,and the one I chose did an excellent job of helping her. We met at the local library twice a week. He charged $10 per hour - worth every cent. The high school student is a good idea - maybe that'll work out.

I also second the suggestion that you sit in his classroom and see what's REALLY going on (if you have the time and inclination). My son, now 23 years old, used to come home with horror stories about his middle school teachers. He was such a horror himself that I didn't pay too much attention at first, but when he persisted, I took a week off from work and went to school with him. I found that, if anything, he understated his case. I took him out and home-schooled him for the remainder of middle school.

Let us know how things turn out!

mreddie said...

My homework help is not so great any more - lack of practice. It just happened though that both daughters called tonight about a little help for their daughters' homework. I hope I didn't lead them astray. :) ec

Sally said...

I have no good advice. All I do know is that through the years I've seen soooo many kids have problems in 4th grade. Mom held my younger brother back, and that was the best thing in the world for him. I know you don't want to do that, I'm just saying. I hope the others have helped you - you sure got a lot of good advice. If all else fails, call the School Board and scream!!! (HUGS)